I remember when I was a kid, a change of seasons meant I got sick. This usually was the common cold or flu, but either way, it was my body telling me that I needed to take better care of myself.
Naturally, the change in temperature played its role too because the weather can influence how we feel, our emotional state, and the health of our immune system just to name a few.
And this is why in today’s blog post I want to talk about the reasons why we get sick and how to look after ourselves during this season change.
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Why do you get sick?
Feeling unwell is not necessarily a bad thing. When we are not feeling in our optimal health and wellness it is a signal from our body that what we do, eat or think doesn’t serve us (I explore this concept in my blog post The signals your body sends you, read it HERE if you missed it).
You may have a headache because you are dehydrated, didn’t eat healthy food throughout the day, stayed in an uncomfortable position for too long, or spent too much time in front of electronics.
Of course, some forms of unhealthiness have more underlying causes which can start with bacterial infection, pathogens, or biological disorders.
Noticing what leads you to feel less than ok, is a great starting point in understanding how to change that. If you always feel sick when the weather changes then looking for some common triggers and taking care of yourself at the time will help you to stay on top and potentially to avoid getting sick.
When we talk about feeling unwell in our body, we need to talk about the importance of having a strong and healthy immune system.
The immune system is our body’s defence system. Its primary role is to protect us from any bacteria and viruses entering our bodies. We take our immune system for granted, but our lifestyle choices can sometimes compromise its health. And one of the most common ways our immune system is not performing is stress.
How stress impacts your immune system
Stress affects you on many levels and influences more areas of your life than you realize.
During the stress response (‘fight or flight’ response) your body undergoes a lot of chemical reactions. Adrenaline is being produced to help you to face the situation you are in, and blood is being delivered to your extremities for quick action. But there is also some reshuffle with prioritizing what functions your body will be performing and what functions need to be shut down.
After all, your body’s primary role is to keep you alive. And when you are facing danger, you need to stay focused on the task at hand and not wonder about food. That is why your digestive system is being shut down. Because your body thinks you are in an unsafe environment it shuts down your reproductive system too. Essentially, it is not safe to bring a child to this world. Also, your beauty functions such as hair, skin, nails are not a priority right now, so any nutrients that your skin or hair would need are diverted.
But the biggest change that happens is that stress shuts down your immune system. Looking from your body’s perspective, in that given moment when your life is in danger, your energy cannot be spent on trying to protect you from developing an illness that may or may not harm you in the future.
For our ancestors, the stress response was a short-term response, but in modern times, that state of stress becomes a long-time response.
So, think about it.
Your immune system is being shut down for prolonged periods of time. If you live in a constant state of stress, getting up in the morning and stressing already about the day, then running through the day, only so you can worry more before you go the bed, your immune system is shut down for the entire day. And day turns into a week, a week into a month until your immune system is so weak that it can no longer protect you from the common cold.
How to look after your immune system
To prevent yourself from getting sick, you need to strengthen your immune system and make sure that there is nothing compromising its health. And here are a few ways to do it:
1. Reduce stress in your life – as you have just learned, stress shuts down your immune system meaning that you don’t have your body’s natural support and you are that much more vulnerable to getting sick. Stress can be managed by introducing calming techniques such as meditation, body movement such as yoga or tai chi, and performing deep belly breathing. But to truly conquer stress you need to get to the bottom of how you perceive stress, what is your stress story and make the necessary shifts.
2. Eat plenty of plants containing vit C. – eating plenty of plants, raw, and whole foods will help to keep your immune system strong. Eating plants containing Vit C is particularly beneficial. Some examples of foods containing Vit C are kale, capsicum, citrus fruit, kiwi. Also consuming plants such as ginger or turmeric is essential for your immune system. Both plants have antibacterial and antiviral properties, so they are a great support.
3. Spice up - you can support your immune system not only by consuming plants but also by consuming spices. Some of the most common immune system boosters are cinnamon, cloves, pepper, and cardamon. If you are new to spices, I recommend you add them to your favourite drink or prepare a yogi tea.
4. Rest – the pace of life may not give us many opportunities to rest but resting will help to improve your immune system. Taking time to rest will reduce the stress levels, will help you to process the daily events, and will make you feel more connected with yourself and others. It will enhance your mental wellbeing.
5. Sleep – making sure that you take time to sleep is vital not only as to how strong your immune system is but to your overall health. We often cut down sleep time, but during the deep stages of sleep, processes such as regrowth and repair occur. If we don’t sleep well, or reduce our sleeping time, those vital processes can’t happen. This means that you wake up tired, with some aches, a low emotional state, and more susceptible to stress which then, in turn, impacts your immune system.
Feeling unwell is yet another way our body tells us that what we eat or drink, how we move our body, or what we think doesn’t serve us.
We may be more prone to getting sick when the seasons change, but there may be some common triggers that cause you to feel unwell. But really, the state of your immune system is the main indicator as to whether you get sick or not.
The immune system is your shield against any infections or viruses, and when that shied is weak or down, you don’t have your natural protection. One of the main reasons why your guard may be down is stress.
Stress impacts many functions in your body, but the main one is that it shuts down your immune system.
One of the ways to look after your immune system is to manage your stress better, so even if stress impacts its function, it is only for a short period of time. Eating plenty of plants, containing Vit C and spices is an easy way to boost your immune system. Taking time for the necessary rest and sleep is also essential if we want to feel well.
So, how are you going to look after your immune system today?
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